Cliff Notes - Sea Cliff Village Board Conference 7.6.15 and Meeting 7.13.15
TRAFFIC SAFETY ISSUES ADDRESSED; RESEARCHING GOING GREEN; FACILITY USE POLICY
TRAFFIC SAFETY ISSUES ADDRESSED; RESEARCHING GOING GREEN; FACILITY USE POLICY
TRAFFIC SAFETY ISSUES ADDRESSED
At the July 6th Village Board Conference, Mayor Bruce Kennedy and the four trustees discussed two separate requests by residents to address traffic safety issues within the Village of Sea Cliff - one on Downing Avenue between Richardson and Florence Avenues, and the other on Littleworth Lane at the sharp 90 degree turn between Glenlawn and Laurel Avenues. Village Administrator John Mirando developed a plan of action for addressing the Downing Avenue issue that was presented at the June 13th meeting.
At the June 6th Conference, Mayor Bruce Kennedy said that for years, a Florence Avenue resident had been expressing his concerns to the Village about the blind spot created by a crook on the downward slope of Downing Avenue between Richardson and Florence Avenues, creating a hazard for pedestrians walking up the hill as well as for motorists pulling out of both Florence and Richardson. Those concerns have been repeated by a couple who in past year or so moved to that location. The Mayor explained that Village Administrator John Mirando had developed a solution to the problem that Mr. Mirando said would cost the village "less than $5,000." To create a walkway and push traffic flow further to the south, Mr. Mirando said the village would install a curb on Downing at the eastern corner of Richardson that would jut at an angle four-feet into the roadway, and paint a yellow shoulder line extending from that curb to Florence along the northern edge of the roadway. The center yellow lines would also be shifted southward. Two small sections of sidewalk will be installed at the the western corner of Richardson and the eastern corner of Florence (see image above). To accomodate the shift, on the southside of Downing Avenue, parking will be prohibited from Richardson to Tanglewood. Trustee McGilloway, announcing the solution at this past Monday's meeting praised Mr. Mirando's idea as a stroke of genius. The couple who had expressed their concerns were at the meeting this past Monday, and thanked Mr. Mirando and the Board for addressing the issue.
With regard to the Littleworth Avenue safety issue, Mayor Kennedy said at the July 6th conference that the Board had received a petition written by a Laurel Avenue resident and signed by 82 residents requesting that speed controls be put in place on Littleworth as one approaches the 90 degree turn in the road between Laurel and Glenlawn Avenues and that parking be prohibited at that location, so as to improve safety there. The petitioners noted that that section of road is a popular thruway to the center of the village and to Sea Cliff School. Mr. Mirando said that the board had also received a communication from a Littleworth Lane resident who lives at the turn supporting the proposed speed reduction measures but opposing the proposed change in parking rules because, he explained, she said she received frequent visits from friends and relatives. Mayor Bruce Kennedy said that he believed there was good visibility around the corner for a driver coming down Littleworth from Glenlawn, having come to that conclusion after scoping out the area while he was on the Planning Board and considering an application to install a circular driveway. He questioned whether having a no parking rule would improve safety. "If you eliminate the cars," he said, "then you have a raceway." Trustee Elena Villafane said that she believed the turn was very hazardous and that prohibiting parking at that location ought to be given serious consideration. She said she used to live on Laurel, and that every time you drove up the hill, "you knew you were taking your life in your hands." Trustee Dina Epstein remarked that she believed the turn was a hazardous spot for children and parents walking to Sea Cliff Elementary School up Littleworth. Village Clerk Marianne Lennon said that she had "many a close call" at the location. Mayor Kennedy encouraged the trustees to visit the location at some point over the course of the week. The matter was not raised at the Village Board meeting a week later.
RESEARCHING GOING GREEN
At the Monday July 6 Sea Cliff Village Board Conference, a representative of the green energy start-up firm Solar Thin Films Group (STF), Nick Maugeri, presented to the Mayor and Trustees the company's solar and wind energy products that he said would reduce the Village govenrment's carbon footprint while at the same time saving taxpayers money. In addition to selling and installing products like solar and wind powered street lamps, as well as solar panels for roof top and other installations, Mr. Maugeri explained the Company's plans to enter the Independent Power Producer (IPP) industry, selling energy produced at its West Virginia Solar Farm, which he expected to be on-line this October.
The electricity rates offered by STF, he said would be below that of PSEG and that the Village government could expect to see a 10% savings on its bills.
Additionally, Mr. Maugeri spoke of the on-site solar and wind energy products the company sells and installs. Assuming a favorable southern exposure, he said that installing solar panels on buildings could save a customer 30-80% on his energy bill, and that the savings would cover the cost of installation in 4-8 years.
STF also sells and installs off-grid street lamps. Each lamp, including installation, Village Administrator John Mirando, explained later in the meeting, cost $5000 - $6000 a piece as compared to $4200 for a traditional street lamp wired to the electrical grid.
The board questioned Mr. Maugeri not only about the products themselves, but also about the work the company has done since its launch two years ago. Thus far, Mr. Maugeri explained that the company has done solar installations primarily for commercial and residential customers, but was expanding into school districts, colleges, and municipalities, for which it has done some off-grid lighting. It has not become operational yet as an IPP, and therefore has not concluded any contracts with customers at this point, but expected to do so in October when its solar farm is up and running.
Following the presentation, Mr. Mirando said that he had invited Mr. Maugeri in to give the board an introduction to the sort of green energy options that are available to municipalities. Mayor Kennedy said that he believed this was a good starting point for the discussion, and that "going green" was something that this community would be very receptive to. Trustee Lieberman said that he believed that looking into IPP's to supply energy was something that the board could take up, while perhaps it might be a good idea to allow the Village Environmental Committee to take the lead in researching on-site solar and wind installations and off-grid lighting and come back to the board with recommendations for their use by the Village. His Board colleagues agreed.
FACILITY USE GUIDELINES
Revisiting an issue that had first been raised back in April, the Board once again, at its July 6 conference, discussed the Village’s policies for issuing facility use permits. At the previous three conferences and at the May meeting, Trustee Kevin McGilloway had emphasized the importance of developing clear criteria for determining when the Village ought to grant organizations and individuals permits to use Village property such as streets, parks, and the beach for certain different types of events.
Early during last Monday's discussion, Trustee McGilloway said that it was difficult to reconcile the facility-use regulation that prohibited for-profit enterprises from using Village property for private gain with the fact that “not-for-profit” groups are granted permits to hold events on Village property at which private individuals and companies can sell their goods or services for a profit. He cited as an example Springfest, which has been held for the past three years on Sea Cliff Avenue in early June, and that is organized by a not-for-profit, but at which vendors, who pay a $25 booth fee that goes to a local charity, sell their wares.
"I don't see a big difference between that, and someone wanting to set up shop on the village green to sell jewelry for a profit," he said. "If we were to approve vendors coming in under a general banner and sell their wares on our property whether it be Springfest or something else, are we setting precedent that you can use public property to sell for private purposes?”
“We have to have a uniform policy and I thought the policy was that you can’t use public property for private use,” he continued. “Now we’re saying 'not really - it’s ok if its for private gain as long as it’s Springfest.'”
“No,” Mayor Kennedy replied, “it comes under the umbrella of something this board agrees has a general public good - something that our residents will enjoy.”
“Secondarily,” the Mayor continued, the policy requires the board to consider, “who is running this? Is it a not-for-profit? Then the question is, do we care if there are individual vendors who are making money? My answer is ‘no’ because otherwise we would have no vendors and no event.”
“It’s got to be something that serves the public good,” said Village Attorney Brian Stolar.
“Everybody agreed that the Farmers Market served the public good.” replied Trustee McGilloway
Trustee Ed Lieberman replied, “the issue with the Farmers Market was that it was every Saturday for months at a time. Mini-Mart is one day; Springfest is one day.” Where the money was going was not the consideration, he continued, “it was the closing of the street one day every week.”
Doing it weekly, Mr. Stolar said, tends toward making it more of a private use.
Trustee McGilloway said that ultimately the inconsistency is caused by not having a clear set of guidelines.
“I think there're two philosophies,” he said. One, which he said was the Mayor’s view “which is we can make judgements on an individual case by case basis using eight or ten or twenty criteria.”
Trustee McGilloway continued that his own philosophy was that “80 or 90% should be non-discretionary” which he said would make the issuance of permits “non-judgemental.” There needs to be consistency, he continued. “Sometimes,” he said, “we have people having affairs with beer and others where it’s not allowed.”
Trustee Lieberman agreed that there seemed to be inconsistency in the standards but asserted that the inconsistency there resulted from inconsistency in the procedures for reviewing facility-use applications. “The inconsistency starts” he said, with various individuals being involved in the review - whether it is the Village Clerk, the Mayor, the Beach Manager or the Trustees. He suggested that the Mayor review applications and have the final say, with, if he chooses to seek it, the advice of the village board.
“Part of what brought us to this place,” Trustee McGilloway responded, “Is that we were being perceived as having some inconsistent applications of judgement.” He continued, “If you want to put it in the hands of the clerk or the Mayor, I’m ok with that. But the perception is that it is not being done based on an objective set of criteria.”
“There are many applications where I would want the input of the board,” Mayor Kennedy said. There are others, he continued, where it is obvious what to do. He cited the Little League requesting use of the Clifton Park baseball fields. “If a facility is designed for the requested use, so be it,” he said.
“Do we as an entity need to discuss each request?” asked Trustee Lieberman. “Once the protocols are put into place and we have our checklist, would we have to sit here and discuss these [applications].”
The question, Trustee McGilloway said, is “how do we make this consistent. . . . The decision-making should be done in two ways - having a “high level set of statutes that are clear; and after that, delegate it to the appropriate village personnel. If they choose to bring it to us because it’s delicate that would be fine.”
“If you give the authority to one person who is elected,” Trustee Lieberman said, “then he can take the lumps.” Trustee McGilloway responded that whether is was in the hands of an individual - either the Mayor or the Village Clerk, he was fine with it, but reiterated that there needed to be a consistent set of guidelines.
The full board said that they agreed, and that Mr. Stolar would take the board’s comments and suggestions to put together a clearer set of guidelines, including what village officials would review permit applications, with the Mayor ultimately having the final say.
Trustee McGilloway announced at the Board meeting this past Monday night that Mr. Stolar had distributed those guidelines to the Board for their review.
BACK TO WEEKLY
Christine Abbenda-Hughes, flanked by Mayor Bruce Kennedy (right) and Board Liaison to the Sea Cliff Library, Trustee Kevin McGilloway, was appointed to the Sea Cliff Library Board of Trustees at the Monday, July 13 Village Board Meeting.